Statement of San Diego Christian Bishops on the Rise of Religious Hatred in Our Midst

As religious leaders in San Diego and Imperial Counties, we have witnessed the beauty and the depth of the Jewish and Muslim communities and the faith which animates them. We profess in our own Christian faith the unity of the human family that has been created by God, equal in dignity. We are grateful for the many years of peaceful interfaith cooperation that religious leaders of all faiths have worked hard to foster in the San Diego area. Now, however, the conflict in the Holy Land threatens that deepening understanding between people of faith here at home. Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are utterly incompatible with what it means to be a follower of Christ or what it means to be an American.

We acknowledge and share the deep grief felt by Jewish and Muslim people at the escalating cycle of violence that is consuming the Holy Land. Indeed, we believe God weeps with us and all who suffer. The massacre of more than 1,300 Israelis by Hamas on Oct. 7 shocks our most fundamental sense of humanity and moral right. The escalating war being waged by Israel in Gaza has cost more than 10,000 lives, with no sign of ceasing in its destructiveness. We fear that a new generation of hatred is being born, which will cripple any pathway for a just and lasting peace.

The twin hatreds of Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, so embedded in our history and so vicious in their virulence and poison, have now been awakened once again in our own land. A six-year-old Muslim boy is murdered in Chicago because of his faith. An elderly Jewish man is killed at a protest in Thousand Oaks. Jewish students are harassed and threatened on university campuses, and every Jewish family knows firsthand a deepened fear of discrimination and violence that echoes past horrors. Increasingly, Muslims on campus and in society as a whole, are indiscriminately labeled as terrorists within American society. Even here in San Diego County, these hatreds are present and growing, with actions of hatred against Jewish and Muslim houses of worship and anti-Semitic and Islamophobic actions in schools. Children who witness such acts of hatred may grow up without a sense of the American and religious commitment to the human dignity and respect due to all people.

Here in the San Diego area, we call on all people of faith to stand with us and our Jewish and Muslim brothers and sisters to oppose hate, to console one another in their suffering, to protect and support the innocent, to listen to each other’s experiences, to pray for an end to violence in the Middle East, and to work for a just and lasting peace in the land that all three of our religious traditions cherish so deeply.

In Faith,

The Rt. Rev. Susan Brown Snook, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego

Robert Cardinal McElroy, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of San Diego

Bishop David Nagler, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America